Marcian "Ted" Hoff was born in Rochester, New York, in 1937. He received his BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1958) and an MS (1959) and PhD (1962) from Stanford University.
Hoff joined Intel in 1968 and is credited with the idea of using a universal processor to replace custom-designed circuits. This arose from a contract Intel had with Japanese company Busicom to build a set of integrated circuits for their new electronic calculator. Working with Stan Mazor, Hoff defined the instruction set and architectural specifications of the new chip, known as the Intel 4004. Fellow team members Masatoshi Shima and Federico Faggin implemented the design in silicon, creating the world's first commercial microprocessor. The microprocessor is now the core technology of all modern electronics systems.
In 1980, Hoff was named the first Intel Fellow and stayed in that position until 1983, when he went to Atari as vice president of technology. Hoff was most recently chief technologist at Teklicon, an intellectual property consulting firm, at which he served from 1990 to 2007.
Hoff shares the US National Medal of Technology (2009) with Faggin and Mazor and the Kyoto Prize (1997) with Faggin, Mazor, and Shima.